Saturday, July 3, 2010

Freedom ISN'T Free

A couple weeks ago my daughter asked me what the phrase "Freedom Isn't Free" means. We were sitting in an office in the hospital when she had read it on the wall. It was a small poster that was inches from my husband's head as he was bent over a desk, struggling with the paperwork that starts the med-board process. He was painfully recording dates and places and events and occasionally looking to me to fill in the blanks when his mind wouldn't let him remember all the details.

It could not have been a more achingly poetic moment. I could not explain to her at that time exactly what it means for us because I would have dissolved into tears. I gave her the pat answer that throughout history many men and women have died to protect our freedom; our way of life. That in fact freedom is very expensive.

True. But, there is so much more to tell her. For every soldier who has paid the ultimate price, there are thousands of others who have still paid dearly. Some have given their legs, their arms, or like her dad, their minds. They've sacrificed their youth, their comfort, and precious years with their families. Some have fought because our government made them, some have fought because they felt called to do it. ALL deserve our utmost respect.

For every soldier who has ever died there is a mother and father who lost a child. For every soldier who couldn't handle the stress of flashbacks and pain and turned to drugs or alcohol, there are children who lost a father. For every loving spouse who returned from war angry and bitter, there is a couple who lost their marriage. It is a spiderweb of tragedy and grief.

Since Jay returned as a broken version of the man he used to be I have been struggling with the 'WHY?' of it all. What was all of this for? Someone's political agenda? Greed? I can knock myself out trying to find a point to it all.

But, if I sit back and just let go of my anger, I know the answer that will work for me.

As we are all with our families this weekend celebrating our nation's birthday,
lounging in our lawn chairs,
chowing down on too many hotdogs,
laughing and joking with our friends in our cozy neighborhoods,
watching our children waving their sparklers,
knowing that they are free to be whomever they wish to be,
and that they'll never know a thimble-full of the pain a lot of other children do,
THAT feeling...
that feeling of warmth in our chests,
and calm in our bellies,
that feeling that all is right with our part of the world...
THAT is the WHY of it all.

Freedom isn't free. I know that. It is a very expensive gift that I will never take for granted again.


  1. At church today someone was trying to say what you just said. Except they failed miserably (They started by saying that "the first part of freedom was free and everyone knows freedom isn't free" I groaned)

    I think what they were missing was a real, honest to goodness understanding of what that means. It isn't just a catchy phrase its an actual fact.

    I like to say people died so you could care... so care!

    Hope your fourth is calm and full of laughter.

  2. I am sorry for what your husband going through as a result from serving our country. But I just wanted to say thank you.

    I hope you have a sunny and very relaxing 4th of July.

  3. Hi, Emme!
    I haven't abandoned you. The heat here in AR has been horrible. My body doesn't handle heat well, so I have been suffering from a lack of energy. But I think of you and your family daily.
    My family association with the military goes back to the Civil War. My great-grandfather left to fight and never came home. Both my grandfathers served in WWI. My father and his brother served in WWII. My mother's two brothers served in WWII and one died in India. My brother-in-law served in Vietnam. My grandson spent a year in Iraq and may soon go to Afghanistan. And I am proud of all of them. Everyone who serves our country and their families deserve our thanks. They are true heroes.
    I wish I could personally say to each and every military persoon and their families - "Thank you for giving your everything. Thank you for keeping the darkness at bay.
    Please tell Jay he is appreciated and his sacrifices were not in vain. And neither are yours, Emme. You are truly a wonderful wife and mother.
    I hope you have had a good day with your family!
    Best wishes,

  4. Hey Emme,

    Haven't had a chance to comment lately, but I'm still reading. Just wanted to let you know that I thought about you and your husband when I was watching fireworks with my kids on Sunday night. Your husband, and those like him, have my utmost gratitude and respect.


  5. Thank you ladies for the lovely comments.

    Cannwin, you are right. It isn't just a catchy phrase. I don't blame people for not "getting" it. I never really processed it myself until Jay was diagnosed. After watching him struggle I feel the need sometimes to shout at people to care too.

    Justine, thank you for your well wishes. I hope you had a lovely weekend yourself.

    Patricia, you have quite a legacy there. You must feel very proud. I'm sorry to hear that you haven't been feeling well. I hope things improve soon! I will certainly pass your sweet sentiments along to Jay.

    Kristen, thanks for thinking of us. I will let Jay know about your comment. I'm sure it makes him feel better to know that someone he doesn't know cares about what he is going thru and the reasons why.

  6. Your story is heart wrenching. I recently spoke to one of my old friends about his time in the Army and his experience with PTSD. Much of what he had to say was similar. You are absolutely correct...freedom isn't free. Our soldiers and their friends and family pay the ultimate price.
    If you are interested, here is the blog post I wrote after our talk.